The Transylvania Times -

Huge Showdown As Blue Devils Face Panthers In The Pit - Brevard, NC


October 12, 2017

Can they do it again?

That’s the question on the mind of of every Blue Devil football fan this week as Brevard travels to Franklin for the second year in a row for what looks to be a huge conference showdown.

Last year, Brevard (6-1) found themselves in a huge hole against the Panthers (7-0) before rallying for a last-minute comeback.

This year, the two sides square off in a game that will give a big edge in the conference standings to whoever comes up with a win.

For their part, Franklin hasn’t changed much from 2016 – they’re still big, still physical and still want to pound other teams into submission on the ground.

Knowing what the other team is going to do may make game-planning easier, but executing that scheme on the field will be the real difference come Friday night.

“Coming up with a plan to stop them on a whiteboard is easier when they’re so run-heavy, but they’re very good at it, so it’s really hard to stop. It’s one of those things where you game plan, but it doesn’t really matter until the kids are on the field and show they can stop (the run),” said Head Coach Craig Pritchett.

Adding to the difficulty is the fact that the Panthers’ run game is more diverse than last year.

In 2016, Brock Kloeppel dominated the stat sheet, carrying the ball seven times more than any other Franklin player.

But things are different this year, as the Panthers have spread the carries out over three backs who all have more than 350 yards rushing.

Kloeppel is still in the mix, but senior Grant Stiles has emerged as the leading rusher with 715 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns.

AJ Carpenter, a 200-pound fullback, also has 356 yards rushing to go along with six touchdowns.

Having a slew of options to run the ball means the Panthers will be able to present more looks on offense and the Blue Devils won’t be able to key in on just one player.

“(Having three backs) makes them more dangerous. They’ll have fresh legs, and they’re all physical runners. So, we’ll have to be just as physical on defense to bring them down and gang-tackle,” Pritchett said.

A big part of that defensive effort will be senior linebackers Kyle Williams and Ethan Shook, who are two of the top tacklers in the mountains with 97 and 94 tackles on the year, respectively.

“The defensive line has done a great job all year of letting those guys make plays,” Pritchett said. “This game is going to come down to controlling the line of scrimmage, getting pads on tackles instead of arm tackling and pursuing the ball.”

In every game they’ve played so far, Franklin has managed to shut down either the run or the passing attack of their opponent.

Brevard’s offense is as balanced as possible, averaging 173 yards passing and 172 yards rushing per game.

Pritchett said the game plan offensively was to try and spread the ball around early and figure out some spots that they can take advantage of.

“We’re going to have to find what’s working for us that night and go with it. It seems like some nights we’re able to run the ball very well and other nights it’s our pass game that’s dangerous. Our team and coach (Kyle) Dickey have done a good job of spreading the ball around on offense. So, I think it’s going to be a great matchup,” Pritchett said.

Last year’s game at “The Pit” was an instant classic and Friday could be another installment.

Franklin wants to run the ball and Brevard prides itself in run defense.

Fans on both sides should be in for a treat when the two sides collide once again.

“It’s going to be a championship game atmosphere. The team that wins this game has an inside track to a conference championship. We’re going to play our type of football, eliminate turnovers and put four quarters together,” Pritchett said.


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